Since the dawn of time man has wanted to fly. But, well... To be honest it is pretty darn hard. It took a long time to figure out that humans themselves could not fly and it took even longer before man could do it with tools. But what if if could be done easier? What if humans could simply grow wings themselves and fly away?
Growing Wings is a trope centered around a person, animal, or even an object that sprouts wings. The wings either grow over time, or are gained instantly. The wings can appear suddenly, often as a result of a magical spell or MacGuffin
In case of a person or animal, the character could also go through Metamorphosis
. They can wake up one morning
to discover tiny wings on their back, which grow over time
until they are functional. The initial sprouts can be ridges, feathery tufts, or tiny, articulated wings. The more realistic the story is, the more slow and painful the change will be. If the transformation and large flight muscles also develop, it can be a mild case of Body Horror
Note that this trope is for permanent or semi-permanent wings. Wings that appear and disappear go into the category of Power Gives You Wings
Anime and Manga
- People often sprout wings in Red Bull commercials.
- In Card Captor Sakura the titular Sakura gains wings when she uses the Fly card in the second season. In the first, her staff sprouted the wings and she rode it like a witch's broom. There's also Yue and Ruby Moon who have wings in their true forms but not their false ones.
- In Naruto Sasuke sprouts wings during his fight with Naruto. The transformation sequence looks a bit painful and they burst through his clothing.
- Princess Ai sprouts a pair, on account of her unconventional heritage.
- In the final episodes of Eureka Seven, Eureka is distressed when she undergoes a mysterious transformation that includes the sprouting of bright green butterfly wings.
- In Angel Beats!, Kanade programs angel wings on herself after Otonashi suggests it.
- In Gunnm: Last Order, Alita sprouts wings with damascus metal blades for feathers after her second resurrection. She's not impressed with them, since they impede her fighting style.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
- The Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 story arc "Quarantine" (issues 530-534) introduces an experimental drug that gives a specific mutant's power to ordinary humans. One of the volunteers, Penny Newsom, chooses Angel. Shortly after taking it, she sprouts wings.
- The Flight Volume 1 short comic "I wish..." by Vera Brosgol is about a teenage girl that grows angel wings one day. It's mostly her talking with a friend about growing up wishing she could fly.
- In X-Men: The Last Stand, Angel is shown to have something growing out of his back as a child. Fast forward ten years: he has wings.
- An interesting variation occurs in the novel Mail-Order Wings by Beatrice Gormley. The protagonist Andrea builds a set of artificial wings from a kit and drinks a potion that causes them to gradually become real. Unfortunately for her, the potion also causes her to slowly metamorphose into a bird.
- The Icarii race in The Wayfarer Redemption series are born wingless, and develop wings in infancy. Dormant wing-buds of half-Icarii, half-human adults can still be encouraged to sprout, using magic.
- In The Magician's Nephew, Aslan gives Strawberry wings and renames him Fledge. Instant Cool Horse.
- Mervyn Peake's Mr Pye is such a saintly character that he begins to sprout angel wings. He finds them an embarrassing nuisance and eventually decides to try not being saintly any more to try and get them to go away again. It works... but he then begins to sprout horns instead. Reverting his character to get rid of the horns again works, but the wings come back...
- Laurel Winter has a book called "Growing Wings", where it's a kind of Puberty Superpower. The wings are too large to really be hidden, but there aren't any other physical adaptations for flight, so no one with wings can really use them to fly on their own.
- It happens to Miranda in Dr. Franklin's Island in a horrifying way - she loses her hands and her breastbone bursts through her skin as she turns into a bird. As it happens she tries to stay positive about it, saying that she'd love to be able to fly.
- Rapture by David Sosnowski is about a virus that causes people to grow wings and how society adjusts and reacts to this new subset of the human race (i.e. not very well).
- When We Have Wings by Claire Corbett is a dystopian novel where the extremely wealthy opt to get a combination of surgery, genetic modification, and drugs to grow and maintain flight-capable wings. These people live in floating paradises in the sky, making it kind of similar to Elysium (although predating it by a few years).
- Self Portrait with Wings by Susan Kohn Green is about an eleven year old girl that magically gains mostly-invisible dragonfly wings after drawing a picture of herself with them.
- This is a central plot point in the children's book The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings. The rabbit wishes for the traits other animals have, and his wish is granted when he grows red wings to match a cardinal's. However, the rabbit's mother and friends fail to recognize him with wings, and send him away. The next day the rabbit wishes the wings away and is once again accepted by society. The Aesop in this story is supposed to be that you should be happy with who you are and not be envious of others, but it also gets into Family-Unfriendly Aesop territory: don't dare to be too different or everyone you love will reject you.
- In the fantasy novel Black And Blue Magic set in the time of the Great Depression the young boy protagonist is gifted a bottle from a mysterious man who for a short while rents a room from his mother (and is implied to both be of fantastic age and his large bag to contain many magical items from ancient stories including Aladdin's Lamp), by rubbing a drop of the pearlescent liquid inside on each of his shoulderblades and reciting a magical chant he grows large wings that remain until he recites the counter-spell (which he's genre savvy enough to commit to heart).
- The Music Video for Asian Kung Fu Generation's "After Dark" features a man randomly sprouting wings on his back one day, and desperately hiding them until a window-washer is dangerously close to falling off a building.
- Ascending to Daevahood in Aion lets a player character summon a pair of wings at will.
- Getting certain upgrades in tandem with Transcendence in The Binding of Isaac will cause Isaac to grow a pair of wings.
- In DFMA, the Cubi race grows a second pair of wings on their head in addition to the pair on their back when they come into power.
- Jarred experienced this early in Boomer Express. It was quite the painful episode.
- Beret Guy in XKCD has "endless wings", as seen in 1099.
- At the end of Thumbelina the titular heroine sprouts a pair of fairy wings when she marries fairy prince Cornelius.